Route to prosperity laid out in city plan

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 09/02/2013

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Five "game-changing" initiatives that could dramatically improve Christchurch's economy and the quality of life of its residents have been unveiled by the city council's economic development arm.

The "big five" from the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) form part of a revised economic development strategy for Christchurch and could push the city's gross domestic product (GDP) up 54 per cent by 2031.

A growing GDP leads to greater job and career opportunities, higher average wages and better city facilities and services.

"The aim is to make Christchurch the best place for business, work, study, and living in Australasia," corporation chief executive Tom Hooper said yesterday.

He said the keys to achieving that goal were:

Maximising earthquake recovery opportunities.

Effective water resource management - increasing the irrigation potential and productivity on the Canterbury Plains.

Improving productivity through innovation - businesses using new ideas, the latest technology, new buildings, and modern work techniques to lift productivity.

Good central-city design and build strategies to create a heart to lure new businesses and people.

Increased exports and improved distribution networks.

"If we mess it all up we will become a creche and a retirement village," Hooper told city councillors at a workshop on the strategy.

If it was done right, it could add $18 billion to the baseline economy and lead to more young workers being attracted to the city.

"In 2031, we will have 5 per cent fewer people in the working-age population than we do today. Growth is going to depend on our ability to attract talent into the city," Hooper said.

Christchurch has had an economic development strategy in place since 2010, but the CDC has been revising it since the quakes.

Hooper said the purpose of the new Christchurch Economic Development Strategy was to identify long-term growth goals to 2031 that would create a better quality of life and a strong and prosperous economy.

Asked how the corporation's development strategy fitted with the economic recovery plan of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), Hooper said Cera's strategy was a five-year plan aimed at steering Christchurch's economy through the rebuild, while the CDC's was a long-term plan that looked at how Christchurch could build on the impetus of the rebuild.

Councillor Sue Wells applauded the work of the CDC, but urged it to act quickly to promote the city to international firms. "There is not a more exciting, opportunity-filled place in the land right now."

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- The Press

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